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Old 08-07-2017, 12:11 PM
rvanstory's Avatar
rvanstory rvanstory is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: New Braunfels
Posts: 110
Default Avionics Timing

I know conventional wisdom is to not buy avionics until last minute due to changing technology. BUT, not sure at what step I would want to do this. Do you want to have avionics install after fuselage is complete, but before finish kit and engine? After finish kit? After engine?

The lead time on a plug and play can be as much as 10 months, so don't want to wait until I need it to order it. Just trying to plan ahead and would appreciate experienced builders advice. Thx.
Randy Vanstory
Building RV10
N783V - Reserved
Flying Mooney M20J
Emp Kit Completed, Section 29 done, Tail Cone Attached, QB Wings delivered and stored for now.
Dues Happily Paid 2018
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:42 PM
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Jesse Jesse is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: X35 - Ocala, FL
Posts: 3,466

Typically I recommend that people run conduits early but don't buy or install avionics until they have the engine installed and most of the FWF done.

Feel free to give me a call and we can talk through the process.
Jesse Saint (Saint Aviation, Inc. - VAF Advertiser)
RV Hotel (hangar, room, car) at X35 in north FL

Commercial ASEL/S A&P/IA EAA Technical Counselor

Dynamic Prop Balancing, Prebuy Inspections, Condition Inspections, Repairs and Mods, Injector Tuning, Airframe, Engine, Panel Upgrades, Ferrying, etc.
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:46 PM
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RVbySDI RVbySDI is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Tuttle, Oklahoma
Posts: 2,483

After Finish Kit. After Engine install. After, well put it this way, after everything that makes the airplane fly and just before first flight.

Seriously, avionics should always be explored throughout the build process. You should be analyzing your needs, mission, desires all through the process. Keep abreast of all the new things coming out at all times. However, the actual decision to purchase should be put off as long as practical before you absolutely cannot install anything else without first having the instruments in the panel.

If you do this then whatever you install in your panel will only be obsolete 1 or 2 months after you buy it instead of 6 months. LOL
Live Long And Prosper! 🖖🏻
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Old 08-07-2017, 02:04 PM
rv7charlie rv7charlie is online now
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Pocahontas MS
Posts: 2,903

Yep. I got a great deal on a Garmin 327 transponder a couple of years ago; only $1200. I'll make you the same deal, if you want to buy some avionics right now. ;-)
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Old 08-07-2017, 02:17 PM
David Paule David Paule is online now
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 3,463

I agree with posts #2 and #3. That's my plan.

Some exceptions are that I'm making accommodations for installing specific things while I've still got the fuselage mostly unskinned. Sure, there's a risk they'll change, but some probably won't, and this will save headaches later. Bear in mind, though, that I'm building an RV-3B, and the level of the kit and plans is far lower than for the other airplanes.

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Old 08-07-2017, 03:00 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 11,619

Here's a slightly different viewpoint.

Spec out what you want your avionics to do. Find which avionics fulfill that mission. Buy what fits the bill whenever a good deal comes along.

If your mission statement includes "it must be the absolute latest thing to keep up with all the other guys", then yes - buy the units just before you call the DAR. BUt if you don't need to impress anyone else with just how up to date you are, consider that (as someone said above), anything you buy will be superseded in six months, so your "top of the heap" victory dance will be brief regardless.

I have all sorts of different generations of gear in my airplanes - from GRT HX's (about ten years old now) to original G3X screens, to G3X Touch, and the latest (already "obsolete") plane has a three-screen Skyview. All fulfill their missions just fine. yeah, I like to have the latest, but at a certain point, I decided to give up having to run on that treadmill. Sure, I get new stuff to evaluate, and that's great - but its not always what I buy.

Set your requirements, and then look for a deal along the way.

Paul F. Dye
Editor in Chief - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 08-07-2017, 03:49 PM
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Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 1,482
Default Defer what you can, get what you need

Working my third RV (it is a recognized sickness). My approach is to decide a direction so what needs to be done during construction is completed, and the panel comes last.

So I am a SkyView guy (this is what is in the last two RVs). I already purchased the Dynon AOA pitot with mount and the two Dynon Autopilot servo mounts. I'll build the ADHARS mount but wait until panel to buy the actual modules. Wiring will be done to support the SkyView network - about the easiet element of the build.

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Old 08-07-2017, 07:06 PM
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rzbill rzbill is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 2,518

I know the common wisdom is panel last. I did not do it that way for the following reasons:

1) Cost. I chose to not use the bleeding edge avionics but rather one step back which in my case was a 430W and great EFIS.

2) Cash flow. I was able to buy all the panel out of the checkbook by doing it in pieces while I worked concurently on the airframe. I bought my new engine LAST after getting the money ready. Minimum time for this $ tied up before flying.

3) Installation access. Much of my wiring was done with the fuselage upside down. No crawling in the fuselage, just a duck under and sit down on a drafting chair. Additionally, all the firewall penetrations were complete before engine arrival. A little "funny" about this. My shop is probably one of the few with an aircraft tire skidmark on the cieling from the day we did the final flip.

4) Easy engine install. As above, all the connections were hanging on the firewall when the engine was hung so it was somewhat like putting an engine on a completed craft. They connected quickly and the last fabrication tasks were baffles and cowl before heading to the airport.

5) Minimum pickled storage time for the engine. That.

Everyone is different. If I built again, I would repeat the same, for the same reasons.
Bill Pendergrass
RV-7A: Flying since April 15, 2012. 710hrs
YIO-360-M1B, mags, CS, GRT EX and WS H1s & A/P, Navworx
Unpainted, polished....kinda'
My RV Construction Page

Last edited by rzbill : 08-07-2017 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:23 AM
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rleffler rleffler is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Delaware, OH (KDLZ)
Posts: 3,874

You can also postpone riveting the upper fuselage assembly. With it cleco'd in place, you can work on the doors, cowl, side windows, and cabin cover. It comes off pretty easily even with the cabin cover in place.

This allows you to work on the avionics and wiring with the assembly upside down, as oppose to in the plane and you're the one working upside down.
Bob Leffler
N410BL - RV10 Flying
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:55 AM
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Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 1,482

Originally Posted by rleffler View Post
This allows you to work on the avionics and wiring with the assembly upside down, as oppose to in the plane and you're the one working upside down.
While I agree with the objective, I offer that if you take a few simple steps now to make the panel fully removable you will ease both building and maintenance pain. I never go upside down under the panel in any of the planes I built.

Keep in mind you will modify your panel several times over the years. Doing the mods on the bench is always preferred.

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